John Wall is living up to expectations in the playoffs. The Washington Wizards all-star guard is averaging 28.8 points and 10 assists per game in the first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately, he is not getting much help from his teammates.
Backcourt mate Bradley Beal is chipping in 24.3 points per game but is hitting just 26.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point line. Otto Porter Jr. has seen his scoring drop from 13.4 points per game during the regular season to 8.5 in the playoffs. Markieff Morris is shooting 34.8 percent from the field and is 1 for 9 as the roll man on the pick and roll, including 0 for 5 with his no-dribble jumper on the pick-and-pop.
There is even less help off the bench. Washington’s reserves are getting outscored by 14.1 net points per 100 possessions against Atlanta — a significant drop from their regular season numbers (minus-3.4) and worse than it was during the Wizards’ disappointing 2-8 record to start the season (minus-12.6). The four-man unit of Brandon Jennings, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre Jr. is being outscored by 21.1 net points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. When you compare that to the bench production during a 17-game stretch in which the Wizards won 15 games (plus-3.2 from Jan. 14 to Feb. 16), it is easy to see what helped them find sustained success.
If this poor performance continues, Washington’s playoff run could end earlier than expected.
Washington’s bench is producing the third-worst net rating in the playoffs. The worst, Oklahoma City (minus-26.5), was ousted by the Houston Rockets in five games. The second-worst, Memphis Grizzlies (minus-17.3), trail the Toronto Raptors 3 to 2 in the series with little hope of advancing — the higher-seeded team is 30-2 in first-round playoff series once they take a 3-2 series lead. The fourth-worst, Portland Trail Blazers (minus-10.7), were swept by the Golden State Warriors. The Indiana Pacers bench was only outscored by three net points per 100 possessions and still got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Last season, the four worst sets of reserves were by the Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. The first two were swept in the first round and the other two lost in five games. In 2015, the worst two, Raptors and Boston Celtics, were also swept.
Notice a pattern?
Two reserves that need to step up their game for the Wizards are Bogdanovic and Oubre.
Bogdanovic went from hitting 39 percent of his regular season three-point attempts to making just 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) in the playoffs. He’s also 0 for 5 on wide-open catch-and-shoot attempts. Not only is his offense suffering, but Hawks’ forward Paul Millsap is producing a net rating of plus-16.1 with Bogdanovic on the court, which drops to minus-9.4 when Bogdanovic is on the bench. The Hawks also grab a higher percentage of offensive rebounds when Bogdanovic is on the court (28.6 percent vs. 18.8 percent).
Oubre has hit 5 of 17 attempts in the half-court offense, putting him in the bottom 10 percent of all players participating in the playoffs. When tasked with guarding Dennis Schroder, the Hawks point guard is producing a 68.1 true shooting percentage. That drops to 48.8 percent with Oubre on the bench. When Oubre is guarding Kent Bazemore, the Hawks have a net rating of plus-40.3(!), which drops to minus-9.9 with Oubre not in the game.
Overall, the team is being outscored by 20.9 net points per 100 possessions with Bogdanovic and Oubre on the court.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Wizards still have a 70 percent chance at advancing to the second round, but if they don’t get Wall some help quick, that could easily go to zero.